Ukraine strikes deal to get 2 Royal Navy minehunters from UK with UKEF support

(Politico, Brussels, 11 December 2023) Britain will hand over two Royal Navy minehunter ships to Ukraine as the war-torn country grapples with a continued blockage of the Black Sea by Russia. U.K. Defense Secretary Grant Shapps will on Monday announce Ukraine's armed forces have "procured" the Sandown Class vessels from Britain's Royal Navy, although the details of the transfer are still being arranged through U.K. Export Finance, London's export credit agency. The move is part of a new Maritime Capability Coalition, set up with Norway, to help bolster Ukraine's maritime training, equipment and infrastructure. Norwegian Defense Minister Bjørn Arild Gram will be in London on Monday to launch the initiative. The new coalition wants to help Ukraine transform its navy to make it "more compatible with Western allies, more interoperable with NATO, and bolstering security in the Black Sea," the Defense Ministry said.